Airline Asks Passengers to Make Masterpieces on Their Airsickness Bags

Gemma O’Brien, airsickness bag art for Qanta airlines. Photo: courtesy the artist.

Australian airline Qantas is encouraging its passengers to create works of art from airsickness bags as part of an unusual social media campaign, reports the Telegraph.

Customers who doodle during their journey are being asked to share their handiwork online with the hashtag #qantasblankcanvas for a chance to win privileged status with the airline—priority check-in, extra baggage allowance, and access to Qantas airport lounges.

The campaign is inspired by Australian artist and typographer Gemma O’Brien, who created her own “Spew Bag Challenge” to combat boredom on intercontinental flights. “Each seat there’s a blank canvas right in front of you, so anyone can get creative while they’re flying, be inspired maybe by the destination you’re traveling to,” says O’Brien in the project’s official YouTube video.

Since being invented in 1949 by Gilmore Schjeldahl (father of New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl) for Northwest Orient Airlines, the airsickness bag has had a largely unglamorous existence. However, a short-lived 2004 Virgin Atlantic promotion, “Design for Chunks,” enlisted designers as well as advertisers for the third Star Wars prequel to create art for air sickness bags. Steven J. Silberberg has also cataloged 2,297 of the airborne ephemera in the Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum.

If even thinking about an airsickness bag makes you squeamish, fear not! Qantas is also accepting art drawn on its napkins and boarding passes. The company will announce winners on May 9, 16, 23, and 30.

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